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Election news from across Utah's statewide and national races in 2020.

GOP Rep. John Curtis and Democrat Devin Thorpe Spar on Climate Change During Debate

3rd Dist Debate 23.jpg
Leah Hogsten| The Salt Lake Tribune
The candidates for Utah's 3rd Congressional District race between Incumbent Republican Rep. John Curtis(left) and Democrat Devin Thorpe(right) for the 3rd District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, debate on Thursday, October 15, 2020.

The candidates for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District, Rep. John Curtis, R- UT, and Democrat Devin Thorpe, both agree with the scientific consensus that human-caused climate change is real. But during a debate Thursday evening, they disagreed on who was best suited to tackle the challenge.

Curtis said he’s disappointed the Republican party has let Democrats lead on the issue, and that he has been an advocate for it in his party.

“I've tried really hard to be a conservative voice on the environment,” he said. “Too much of the debate is centered on the fringes. Rarely do those in the middle put forth solutions.”

He pointed to a bipartisan resolution he sponsored designating National Clean Energy Week, a bipartisan bill he sponsored to start a study on soil in public lands, and a bill incentivizing renewable energy storage.

Thorpe commended Curtis for those actions, but went after his voting record on climate change.

Curtis voted for a resolution that said a carbon tax would “be detrimental to the United States economy.” He also voted against a bill that would require the U.S. to keep with the emissions levels it agreed to while it was a part of the Paris Agreement on climate change and against an amendment that would have required exported natural gas to be made in a way that minimized methane emissions.

“Actions speak louder than words and we've got to act on climate change,” Thorpe said. “My promise to Utahns is I will deliver the action.”

But Curtis said he voted against those measures because Republicans were not consulted, and they had little chance of passing the GOP-controlled Senate.

“That's the problem right now is these message bills that really have no intention of passing but are simply meant to bring up in debates so that they can say that they're actually doing what's important,” Curtis said, “rather than sitting down with Republicans and working together across the aisle.”

The third Congressional District is reliably Republican — Curtis beat his Democratic challenger in 2018 by 40%.

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